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The EU has put in place new rules for packaging to reduce waste and increase recycling by 2030

On Wednesday, Parliament adopted new measures to make packaging more sustainable and reduce packaging waste in the EU. The regulation, which aims to tackle constantly growing waste, harmonise internal market…

  • The measures apply to the entire lifespan of packaging.
  • They involve using less packaging, resulting in less waste, and placing restrictions on certain packaging formats.
  • Certain types of single use plastic packaging will be prohibited starting from January 1, 2030.
  • Each person in Europe produces almost 190kg of packaging waste annually.

On Wednesday, the Parliament approved new measures to make packaging more sustainable and decrease packaging waste in the EU.

The regulation, which aims to address the increasing waste, standardize internal market rules, and promote the circular economy, received 476 votes in favor, 129 against, and 24 abstentions.

Reduce packaging and limit certain types.

The rules, which have been provisionally agreed with the Council. include packaging reduction targets of 5% by 2030, 10% by 2035, and 15% by 2040, as well as requiring EU countries to reduce the amount of plastic packaging waste, particularly. To minimize unnecessary packaging, grouped, transport, and e-commerce packaging should have a maximum empty space ratio of 50%; manufacturers and importers must also ensure that the weight and volume of packaging are minimized.Certain single use plastic packaging types will be prohibited from January 1, 2030. These include packaging for fresh fruit and vegetables, packaging for foods and beverages consumed in cafés and restaurants, individual portions like condiments, sauces, creamer, sugar, small packaging for toiletry products, and very light plastic carrier bags (less than 15 microns).

To prevent negative health effects, the text includes a ban on using "forever chemicals" (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances or PFASs) above certain levels in food contact packaging.

Promote reuse and refill options for consumers.

There are specific targets for reusing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage packaging by 2030, with exceptions for milk, wine, aromatised wine, and spirits, as well as transport and sales packaging and grouped packaging. Member states may grant a five-year exception from these requirements under certain conditions.

Retailers of beverages and take-away food will have to offer consumers the choice of using their own container. They will also need to try to offer 10% of products in a reusable packaging format by 2030.

Packaging must be recyclable, and there should be better waste collection and recycling.

Under the new rules, all packaging (except for lightweight wood, cork, textile, rubber, ceramic, porcelain, and wax) must be recyclable by meeting strict criteria.

The measures also include targets for minimum recycled content in plastic packaging and minimum recycling targets based on the weight of packaging waste.

By 2029, 90% of single-use plastic and metal beverage containers (up to three liters) must be collected separately (via deposit-return systems or other methods ensuring the collection target is met).

Frédérique Ries

Rapporteur (Renew, BE) said: “ For the first time in an environmental law, the EU is setting goals to reduce packaging, regardless of the material used. The new rules encourage innovation and provide exemptions for small businesses. The ban on forever chemicals in food packaging is a major achievement for the health of European consumers. We now urge all industrial sectors, EU countries, and consumers to contribute to the effort against excessive packaging.On Wednesday, Parliament approved new rules to make packaging more environmentally friendly and decrease packaging waste in the EU. The regulation is designed to address the ongoing increase in waste and create consistency in the internal market…

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